OT goal wins for Monarchs
MANCHESTER - When heavyweights Justin Johnson and Jimmy Bonneau nearly fought in warmups, we knew a wild night was ahead.
Sure enough, an early brawl set the tone for a bone-jarring battle, and Andrew Campbell gave the Monarchs a 3-2 overtime win against the Worcester Sharks before 6,192 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Monarchs (8-9-0-1) never led until the final goal with 1:16 remaining, edging their division rival for the second time in seven days. And they play again Wednesday night in the Queen City.
'These are definitely exciting games. There is no love lost,' said Campbell, who took a feed from Jake Muzzin and ripped a low laser past Worcester goalie Harri Sateri (32 saves). 'It's a great feeling. Everyone put themselves on the line for each other tonight.'
Campbell's goal, his first of the year, came moments after the Monarchs twice clanged shots off the post in OT. This time, however, Muzzin feathered a pass to Campbell at the weak-side right circle for a beautiful one-timer.
'Muzz made a great heads-up play to hit me. To be honest, I just wanted to get it on net,' Campbell said.
After skating to a scoreless tie in the first period, Worcester's Matt Irwin lit the lamp five minutes into the second period with a power-play blast through Martin Jones (34 saves). The Sharks (5-4-1-2) held a 1-0 lead into the 20th minute of the period, but Manchester right wing Jordan Nolan put the Monarchs on the board with 24 seconds remaining.
Nolan's third goal of the season came with teammate Justin Azevedo serving a minor penalty for too many Monarchs on the ice. It wasn't Nolan's only short-handed goal of the night.
In the third, after Worcester left wing Brandon Mashinter's goal made it 2-1, Nolan struck again with a shorty. Nolan waltzed in after stealing the puck for his fourth goal of the year.
During pregame warmups, Manchester's Johnson and Worcester's Bonneau couldn't resist a mini-scrap after bumping into each other at mid-ice. All 40 players gathered at the red line and exchanged words - a preview of the wild night ahead. Johnson and Bonneau, on their first shift, traded punches in front of the team benches. 'JJ' outmuscled Bonneau, but the Sharks' tough guy landed a few uppercuts in the draw.
Between the pipes, Jones stood tall, saving a dozen shots in the third period and overtime. Fellow goalie Jeff Zatkoff gave a similar performance last Saturday in Manchester's 2-1 win at Worcester.
'Both goalies are playing well now. We've seen a lot of pressure in the third period (the last two games), and we've weathered their barrage,' Monarchs coach Mark Morris said. 'We've been able to survive it with blocked shots and by making some key saves at precarious times.'
The Monarchs, winning three of their last four games, seem to have found their stride.
'We've played well this season but haven't followed it up at times. Now we've got back-to-back wins and hopefully we can get things rolling in the right direction,' Jones said.
MULLET NIGHT: Hockey hair once again will be celebrated at the Big V as the Monarchs host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight at 7. The first 3,000 fans will receive mullet wigs and moustaches. Fans can vote for their favorite moustached Monarchs at www.monarchsjungle.com/movember.